Olympic 2016 homepage. Olympic initial plans and reactions. Olympics and Jackson Park.

Olympic 2016 2006-2007 reactions and ideas

Prepared and presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Parks and Development committees, and its website hydepark.org.

 

A vigorous case against it, from a neighborhood and outside-the wealth and power circuit perspective. This person separately sent a case for Roosevelt Road and the River as a much better site for the Olympic stadium.

cl-althage@neiu.edu (Althage, Craig)
To: hpkcc@aol.com

[Note, Northeastern's Inner Cities Center held a forum on the Washington Park Olympics December 9 2006.]

I do not believe the proposed Olympics should be placed in Washington Park because it is in essence a call by developers for displacing the black community. Unfortunately too many ex-Mayor Washington supporters (now Daley rubber stampers) have been all too cozy with Yuppie Developers who are aggressively gentrifying the black community out of the surrounding neighborhoods. The developers use suspiciously racist arguments saying they want families restored into the area, however there are families there already, they just happen to be black and perhaps poor renters. They will also argue that they want more home ownership, yet this is not a valid argument since there are black families who own their own homes in these surrounding communities, they may however be priced out by rising property taxes. There is the argument which takes the side of a wealthier class that can pay for the taxes to go into the community for more development, such as TIF Tax Increment Financing, which has been shown to be totally flawed and mishandled funds have been taken out for Daley’s whims.

This proposal to bring the Olympics to Washington park is in reality more in keeping with the plan to change the whole face of Chicago known as the 21st Century Plan a plan that has been in existence for 30+ years and is more intended to create a less culturally diverse city in which white suburbanites can feel comfortable to spend their money here. The proposal in the very least is an example of what is so tragically wrong with America of the big spenders with implied racisms to divide classes against each other meant to keep people from sensing their true power against the greedish mendacity of wealth.

Sincerely Craig Lyndon Althage

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A good summary of range of views, considerations in surrounding neighborhoods. Maroon, March 2, 2007

by Sara Jerome

Members of the U.S Olympic Committee (USOC) will visit Chicago next week for the city's final chance to impress the committee in its bid to land the 2016 Summer Olympics nomination over rival Los Angeles. Chicago's Olympic proposal, featuring a prominent role for the South Side, has met praise from University administrators but mixed reactions from locals.

The proposals calls for the construction of an 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium in Washington Park, just west of campus. The stadium, earmarked to become a 5,000-seat amphitheater when the games end, would host the Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies as well as numerous athletic events.

With Olympic competitions staged so near to campus, University Affairs [vp] Hank Webber said Stagg Field and Ratner Athletics Center would be used as warm up facilities for the athletes. He said students would face "restrictions on utilization [of these facilities] during that summer," but anticipated little student objection since use of Ratner and Stagg dips in the summer. "I do think it involves a certain disruption we'll have to work on," he said. "On the other hand, there'll be great excitement to have the Olympics happening.... I think most people will take it in stride. "

University support for the Olympic bid is no surprise, with President Robert Zimmer sitting on the Chicago 2016 Exploratory Committee, the organization charged with fundraising for Chicago's bid. Webber said the University endorses the proposal in part because the Olympics might spark South Side economic development. "[The Olympics] creates th potential for considerable neighborhood rejuvenation, particularly in Washington Park," webber said, adding that the event could spur transportation improvements across the South Side.

Mia Sissac, spokesperson for Chicago's 2016 Olympic Exploratory Committee, echoed the view that the Olympics would benefit South Side neighborhoods. The Chicago Exploratory Committee aspires to leave an Olympic "legacy" on the South Side, she said, adding that the committee hopes the remaining amphitheater would provide a venue for cultural events and international performers.

Sissak said the Olympic committee would not leave Washington Park in a state of chaos. "Whatever grass is gone, we'll put all of that back. We're not just going to leave the holes," she said.

Nevertheless, some remain skeptical that Olympics-provoked development would benefit South Side locals. "The new development would be geared toward tourists, not towards residents who've always lived here," said second-year Hannah Jacoby, a member of the South Side solidarity Network, an RSO concerned with the needs of South Side residents. "[Development] would...lead to the destruction of some homes and local businesses and [would spur an] enormous jump in property taxes... it would dramatically change the makeup of the South Side. We need to keep our fingers crossed the Olympic Committee doesn't pick us," Jacoby said.

The Olympic bid provoked harsh criticism from Washington Park residents as well. Many worry the summer games will disrupt their community and detract from the setting of the park, a landmark listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places. The park was designed in the 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted, renowned architect of New York's Central Park and the University of Chicago campus [sic- early plan of Midway Plaisance].

"People are concerned about details of the planning. In the short term, the construction of the stadium will displace a number of activities," Webber said. Washington Park, which "creates community cohesion," according to Jacoby, is the stage fro various athletic competitions, summer parades, and festivals.

Washington Park Advisory Council (WPAC) President Cecilia Butler said locals will support the Olympics if the city considers their needs. Last Saturday, after two town meetings devoted to delineating locals' needs, WPAC drew up a 29-point list of conditions the city must meet to gain Washington Park residents' support. Requirements include control parking demand, protect parks, and safeguard the homes of tenants who fear displacement.

"[the Olympics] are a great opportunity... The whole world will have its eyes on us," Butler said. "But we need the city to support the people who are affected."

Like the WPAC members, many agree that the responsibility for making the Olympics a positive experience rests on the shoulders of the city government. Sissac emphasized the committee's role as a fundraising body and said it had little power to affect t he possibility of rising housing costs in Olympics neighborhoods. She said potential solutions to these problems, such as rent freezes, rests in the hands of the city.

Despite broad criticisms of Chicago's Olympic hopes, Webber said he is impressed by the support the city has garnered for the proposal. At press time, the Chicago 2016 Olympic Exploratory Committee reported 77,476 people had expressed support for the bid on its website. Webber attributed the support partly to the private control of Olympic fundraising, which leaves taxpayers off the hook. "I think most people understand that the Olympics is an extraordinary event," Webber said, calling the Olympic Games the leading sporting event in the world after the World Cup.

If Chicago wins the U.S. nomination, which will be announced in April, it will face competition from international cities, culminating in a final decision by the International Olympic Committee in 2009.

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Coverage: including what Washington Park council members think; aldermanic caveats as well as praises.

Hyde Parkers imagine the Olympic on their turf- 95.000-seat Olympic stadium proposed for Washington Park. Hyde Park Herald September 27, 2006, by Kathy Chaney and Nykeya Woods.

Hyde Park civic leaders weighed in on Mayor Richard M. Daley's plan to bring the 2006 Olympic Games to Washington Park. Each felt the games would benefit the community. Alds. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), Leslie Hairston (5th) and Arenda Troutman (20th) proudly stood by Daley at a Sept. 20 press conference as he announced the city's proposal to use Washington Park as the primary site for the games.

If the plan, submitted sept. 22 to the Olympic Committee, is accepted, a 95,000-seat temporary stadium would be constructed in Washington Park and and be downsized to a permanent 10,000 seat amphitheater after the games.

"Our goal is to invest in Washington Park as a major sports and cultural destination," Daley said. Preckwinkle, whose ward lines the east periphery of the park, said the area around the park is mostly developed, but that her main concern was that the park is heavily used by players of all sports. If Chicago wins the bid, "Where would those activities go for the two years and what room will there be for them afterwards?" she asked. "The park will not be shut down. It would be in use during construction," Daley said.

Washington Park Advisory Council President Cecilia Butler said the council supported the idea as long as the proposed stadium used the underutilized seven hills near the DuSable Museum of African-American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. "Having it on the common ground will take away from the status of it being the largest playing field in the city," she said.

Daley hopes the plan will "create an urban legacy that will live well past the Olympic Games," and that the park's nearly 350 acres would allow for the state-of-the-art facility being proposed. Included in the plan are improvements such as street and public transportation connected to the park, better lighting, security measures and new pedestrian and bicycle paths.

Butler also has concerns about how other festivals in the park would be affected by the games. Her biggest concern is that the games do not close off certain sections and leave behind trash like some other current festivals do. The last festival, the African Festival of the Arts, left the park in the worst shape with raccoons springing up due to the amount of trash left behind, Butler said. She expects that those fests would be moved south of 55th Street.

Further east, University of Chicago officials are intrigued by the proposed Olympic plan. The university recently purchased Doctors Hospital and is entertaining thoughts of transforming the defunct hospital into a hotel. U of C's Hank Webber said that the mayor's plan does not change what the university will do with the property. "The Olympics coming to Chicago, while absolutely wonderful, will not have a major role in our decision-making. We are considering a hotel and conference center to serve the on-going needs of the community and university," Webber said. "The demand created by the Olympics would be icing on the cake."

Most businesses would benefit from the influx of people according to Bob Mason of the South East Chicago Commission. "I am sure the merchants in Hyde Park would love to see something like that because it would just bring masses of people into the area," Mason said.

Chicago, a finalist along with Los Angeles and San Francisco to host the 2016 Games, needs 60 international votes to win the bid. The International Olympic Committee will not pick a 2016 host city until 2009.

 

November 8 2006 Herald detects stronger opposition in Washington Park: Residents cry foul over Mayor Daley's 2016 Olympic plan

By Kalari Girtley

The Washington Park Advisory Council presented a list of residents' concerns about the 2016 Olympic to Mayor Richard M. Daley's superintendent of parks office last week.

In a meeting held Oct. 14 at the Washington Park Park field house, 5531 S. King Dr., about 60 residents voiced concerns on everything from residential parking permits to talks of a possible referendum being created that would protect residents from eminent domain.

Donna Smith, a user of the park for 13 years, demanded that some type of protection be provided for homeowners. She said people who lived around the United Center were forced from their homes when the center was expanded. "If there are private developers coming into this area, because that is where the money is coming from, [eminent domain] is a concern we have," Smith said. Smith also wants in writing a community benefit agreement that guarantees a portion of the profits made from the Olympics remain in the neighborhood. "If there are going to be businesses coming into the community, then they need to give back to the community," she said.

Bronzeville resident Patricia Hill said people need to worry about what will happen after the Olympics leave. She said she had contact with politicians from Atlanta, and that city did not fare well in the aftermath of the Olympics. She said grassroots organizations were eliminated, and people were displaced.

James Polk, a park user for more than 20 years, said after the Olympics leave and the stadium is still there, he feels the University of Chicago will come and buy up the land. He said he feels poor black people will be disenfranchised. "I don't want the [Olympics] here... I don't like it," Polk said.

Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory Council, said the community needs to be heard because it will be the residents' lives disrupted by the Olympics. "We want this to be a part of the agenda... We would like our own vendors, contractors and job training for African Americans," Butler said. "We are going to try to push for some of the proceeds to be be retained in the community."

Butler said she will try to get all of the concerns on the list addressed and acted on by the mayor. Butler plans to present it in front of the park commission board in November.

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ation on the South Side," said Hank Webber, vice president of community and government affairs.

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Washington Park Advisory Council says "What Will It Take to Support This Event In Our Park" (revised as of June 2 2007).

(The Council met again in late February 2007 to review its position, having gained some concessions. What changes if any were made in the following document is not yet known here. This is what its position was: a later version is also in this page)

-Representation on the Chicago Olympic Committee (Cecilia Butler is on the Committee)
-A Community Benefit Agreement, i.e., property tax increase trust fund
-A Referendum on the ballot concerning taxes, zoning and eminent domain
-Jobs, Jobs and more Jobs
-Job training, internships and apprentice programs, which are Olympics related, via City Colleges of Chicago (tuition free)
-Environmental Impact Study, with multiple strategic planning sessions
-Economic Development: grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, concessions, vendors, business strip development and grassroots business opportunities
-Improved infrastructure within the park i.e., streets, an underground parking lot and a pedestrian crosswalk at 55th Street near Russell Drive
-Improved lighting, safety and sewer system in and around the Park

-Residential parking permits
-If users of the Harold Washington Common Ground i.e., ball players, soccer and cricket players, must be relocated, user fees should be deleted or reduced
-Support cooperative housing for the residents who now live adjacent to the park to ensure that the rental community can afford to stay in the area in the future
-Contacting the Atlanta and Los Angeles Olympic Committees to find the pros, cons and aftermath of the Olympics in their City
-Free or reduced admission ticket to the events
-Preservation and replanting of as much green space as possible
-Improvement to our educational system, geared toward the Olympics i.e., sports, with an indoor track and field facility, entrepreneurial, and building trades
-Grants to the surrounding communities to fix up their property, i.e., the bungalow, greystone and the NIF programs
-Concession agreements for the African-American Community through infinity
-Building trade contracts and On-The-Job Training Program for the African-American Community
-Restaurant partnership with the Washburn Culinary Arts Program at South Shore Cultural Center
-Programs and projects which include the Disable Population
-Immediate reduction of the 80,000-seat stadium to a 5,000-seat amphitheater
-Reinstating and/or improving all programs within the Park, i.e., field house programs, baseball, Little League, cricket, soccer, bridle path, Softball Complex, the Arboretum, the Washington Park Forum, DuSable Museum and Dyett school
-Shared control of the 5,000-seat amphitheater with all profits staying in Washington Park to support its programs
-Retention of the Historic Landmark Status of Washington Park, an Olmsted Park and the Bud Billiken Parade Event
-Inclusion of the surrounding community residents present at the historic meeting of the Washington Park Advisory Council in the Washington Park Refectory Oct. 14, 2006, representing the Washington Park, Grand Boulevard, Hyde Park and the Woodlawn Communities

s/ Cecilia Butler, President

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What Rep. Currie and Sen. Raoul said at a September 17 (2006?)Town Hall meeting.
Both state rep. Barbara Flynn Currie and state sen. Kwame Raoul expressed deep skepticism about the project—wrecks the park, creates great disruption and inconvenience to neighbors as well as lack of access to users, will displace lower income people, that the residual features may not be appropriate to or fit the need of this park (which Currie called the jewel in Olmsted’s design) and its quiet character, that the games will provide little spark for development (commercial areas are too far away), might not be so temporary, and will cost an awful lot, much of which the taxpayers will be asked to pick up. They suspect that at some point the legislature would be asked to pass a bill creating an authority, but this was not certain. They also said that Chicago’s Olympic bid is a very long shot, and what the city's disadvantages are.
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Alderman Preckwinkle criticizes consultation and Olympic Village, but not necessarily Washington Park Stadium, January 2007. By Gary Ossewaarde

The January 25 Sun-Times, which in the same issue calls the Olympic Village plan a $1.1 billion “big gamble,” reports Alderman Preckwinkle repeating her concern over weak consultation and input from elected officials re the Olympic Village that she had when told weeks ago with just a few hours notice to show up and endorse the sudden Washington Park stadium plan. (Last week, the Sun-Times reported, Ald. Ed Smith threatened to embarrass the city if an Olympic-sized pool were not included at Westinghouse School on the West Side).

Preckwinkle: “Thy haven’t bothered to talk to me… I find this really offensive and disrespectful of local elected official. But this is the way they operate.” The Sun-times reports the mayor’s office saying they did meet with the aldermen in recent weeks about the Olympic Village and how it could become market rate and affordable housing after the Olympics.

The same day Preckwinkle spoke up, George Rumsey, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference President, wrote the Olympic Committee to ask why they have not been and are not consulting communities, including community organizations, including sending them informational press releases. However, the Olympic Committee has now agreed to include a representative from the Washington Park Advisory Council.

About the Village, Preckwinkle said the complex should buy land Michael Reese Hospital needs to sell and not on the lakefront and over railroad tracks, which would be much more expensive. Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky said this was done to create a lakefront (and lake view) community. One could ask whether such a community is likely to be isolated from the rest of the redeveloping near and mid south and affordable in reality to few.

Kathy Newhouse wrote in the May 9 Herald that Ald. Preckwinkle deserves kudos for critique of Olympic village.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle offered a terrific interview and critique of the Olympic Village plan in last week's Chicago Sun-Times. Her comments constituted an honestly definitive description of what makes a real city neighborhood. A few key phrases were, "Connections to the Bronzeville community to the west so the village doesn't become an isolated little spur of McCormick Place" and "a street instead of super blocks, with streets that go through like a real neighborhood." A real neighborhood is walkable, not divided by barriers. Also, the architecture ought to fit the ambience. All this requires extensive planning.

[An unrelated concern: the long pier out into the lake at the south end of the village could make problems for the proposed beach at Morgan Shoals (50th) and beaches further south if it captures sand.]

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Charles Staples, long time Hyde Park activist and HPKCC member, wrote the following to the Conference and the media September 21, 2006.

Mayor Daley, along with a raft of eager city officials and politicians dropped a big bombshell on Wednesday, when they announced a decision to build a huge Olympic stadium on The South Side in our beautiful and historic Washington Park. This is envisioned as a means of luring the Olympic Committee into making Chicago its next venue. The decision, announced precipitously without prior notice or discussion, is an abomination and potentially injurious to our Park system, and immediate efforts must proceed forthwith to derail the proposed scheme. Its promoters evidently regard Chicago's precious open space as vacant municipal land available without needed acquisition for diversionary or non-park uses. To go forward with such a plan would set a dangerous legal precedent by encouraging such uses for our parks.

There seems to have been little or no consideration of legal ramifications. The Mayor is talking "off the cuff," wrongly assuming that this big project can be easily accomplished. I believe there are already laws on the books that prohibit diversion of dedicate open spaces to non-park use. In addition, there is also a landmark issue at stake. The Park is part of an historic South Side landscaping plan designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of New York's famous Central Park), and protected as such.

Such a huge project in Washington Park would be exceedingly disruptive. Enormous traffic problems could ensue, parking space for over 20,000 cars would be needed. Dense traffic would crowd its way through Hyde Park. Eminent domain demolition would be required to build a Dan Ryan express extension to Washington Park, etc. The Olympics would be of short duration, so people would be loath to demolish the so-called "temporary" stadium, an investment of over a half billion dollars! The desired "community renewal" is certainly not guaranteed.

A much better and more feasible plan would be to build on the nearby Robert Taylor Homes land clearance area, which is already adjacent to the Dan Ryan and two CTA Rapid Transit lines. This could be a stimulus to redevelopment. Another worthy alternative is the clear lakefront southeast side land vacated by the steel industry south of 79th Street, a scenic location that is also ripe for redevelopment. By using these locations, no park land would be lost.

TO HPKCC: ...Concerned organizations must unite to void this seemingly alleged offer to the [International Olympic Committee]. The IOC should certainly be cautioned! The media described it as a fait accompli.

In a letter to the Herald November 29, Staples expanded his points. It's likely to happen given San Francisco's withdrawal; it' a shame almost everyone including preservation groups have dodged this one; the plan must be legally challenged; once built, would it be taken down? It's time for real help for the communities to the west.


In a letter March 7 2007 in the Herald Staples wrote:

The effort to stir public concern and outrage over the city's plan to allow the erection of a huge stadium in Washington Park for the 2016 Olympics has been exasperating at best.

The massive level of complacency about the matter is incomprehensible. The mass media has treated the issue as a n on-controversial, generally extolling the prospect of welcoming the Olympics into Chicago, no matter what may be sacrificed.

Little thought has been given to the big upheaval and displacement that may occur in the park and surrounding communities, along with enormous traffic and parking problems. A broad access branch expressway trench will likely have to be cut from the Dan Ryan to the stadium, necessitating extensive eminent domain seizure and demolition to achieve.

The public is now being seduced with alluring color pictures of the proposed venue, set amid a landscape of grass and trees, with confused people entering on a walkway. In actuality, hundreds of valuable trees may be lost in the attempt to make space for up to 30,000 automobiles.

The Chicago Park District has been derelict in their duty through their failure to protect their dedicated open spaces. It is dead wrong to take away any of this space for non-park uses, and especially for a quasi-private development.

There seems to be an attitude that the historic landmark great meadow of Washington Park is but a mere piece of vacant land ripe for major development. Why are we not rising up in righteous indignation over this great indignity to our legacy of open land?

The Herald is one of the few media that has spoken up at al, and the recent strong editorial is much appreciated. Other media should join the effort. Public interest organizations have been notably quiet and not pressing hard enough to get their objections vociferously publicized. One representative of many I have contacted admitted that there is some fear of blame being assigned if their protest were to cause the Olympics to bypass Chicago.

Chicago has a scarcity of funds to maintain and support its vital public services, yet it is more t han willing to subsidize powerful and politically connected private interests. Our tax dollars have gone to help build private stadiums. Must we allow this outrageous tradition to continue?

We must persist in persuading city officials to offer vacant non-park land to the Olympics, such as the cleared southeast industrial are. we must not ruin Washington Park.

Another by Staples July 11

I may be regarded as a stubborn spoil sport, but I am not about to cede our Washington Park, a dedicated public, open space, to the Olympic organization for its huge stadium project. I still believe that all concerned persons and groups, along with the Olympic Committee, should be laboring to seek relocation of the proposed area to a better and more appropriate location that does not take away our precious legacy of land set aside for recreation and escape from urban crowding.

The Park District is remiss and derelict in its duty to protect and preserve in perpetuity our public trust. The Park District administration should have responded with a firm "no," but instead bowed to the will of the mayor.

The city authorities; choice of the parkland for the stadium was one of impulse when faced with a deadline for presenting a plan to the Olympic Committee. Someone came up with the bright idea that Washington Park's Great Meadow was an ideal parcel of vacant land ripe for development.

This action is dead wrong because it diverts established parkland for non-park use, and even worse, by a quasi-public organization. We must not allow it to happen! Just think what would transpire if this enormous structure was targeted for the Great Lawn of Central Park. The people of New York City would be fighting mad and never allow such a development. Washington Park was designed by the same architect and has federal historic site recognition. Are we about to lose this legacy?

Placing a huge stadium here cannot help but create a massive upheaval in the surrounding community. Considerable displacement can be expected along with gridlocked traffic. The effort to deal with the shuttle of 85,000 people coming in will probably necessitate clearing a wide arterial swath between the park and the Dan Ryan corridor.

Necessity will mandate that mass transit [will] have to be greatly expanded in its capacity. But with our elected officials resisting raising needed additional tax revenue for public services, the opposite is about to happen as drastic cuts in services are being contemplated.

If Chicago is going to have an Olympic stadium, it must be located in one of the abundant parcels of recently cleared non-public spaces..

The existing Metra could be extended to the stadium, and best of all, the daunting challenge of schlepping 85,000 people can be greatly ameliorated by making creative and resourceful use of our great Lake Michigan...

Clearly there is no need to despoil a valued and historic urban park space in our zeal to accommodate the 2016 Olympics. There is indeed a better way.

 

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Maryal Stone Dale: Daley thinks he owns the lake. Herald, October 4, 2006

Hurrah for Chuck Staples. He took the words out of my mouth about the Mayor's stupid idea of dumping the stadium in Washington Park- forever! It turns out that the mayor plans to let the Children's Museum take over the last piece of Grant Park off Randolph, which means even more traffic, mess, etc.

The truth of the matter is that Mayor Daley thinks he owns the lakefront and he prefers to use it. He can't dig up Jackson Park so he does second best. With Washington Park he can direct traffic towards the lake all the time! I'm really surprised we didn't hear he was going to copy his dad and build some island in the lake.

In February 2007 she added that the neighborhood will be ground up with major venues on both sides, Washington and Jackson Parks. Other places need development far more.

Al Klinger in the November 8 Herald said:

...I am appalled that they want to tear up Washington Park for the 2016 Olympics. I am vehemently against them using the parks as venues unless they use the facilities already in place and in the process upgrade them. To have the Olympics in this city without upgrading public transportation to its maximum would be a travesty. Public transportation will not function at its max until it is free and attainable and comfortable for everyone. It will more than pay for itself if we can get people out of their automobiles, help cut down on road building and repairs, and in the process reduce pollution and asthma plus other disabling respiratory conditions drastically.

And Klinger March 14 2007:

Washington Park should be off limits to the Olympic Committee. Because it is a public park, its open space should be inviolable both by law and by tradition.

To put in a large stadium between 57th and 60th streets near Cottage Grove Avenue is going to produce a huge traffic morass. Right now the University of Chicago Hospitals are besieged with traffic. This stadium will be right across the street.

How will it be possible to not only deal with the traffic but the thousands of automobiles which will need parking? The scenario for this venue is untenable. The neighborhoods and the university ought to be up in arms to prevent this huge monstrosity from taking up the quiet corners of Washington Park.

I do not know what Frederick Olmsted would have said. But I know how I feel about the initial pounding, dusty, digging, concretized construction and its subsequent chaos. The one word describing it is abomination.

February 14 2007 John Loftus says parks have no need for development, and in this case it's the stadium OR the park. Herald

When you discuss the issue of the proposed Olympic Stadium, remember this: It is not a question of the stadium in the park. It is more accurately a question of the stadium or the park. Execution of even the most preliminary plans for building such a thing would entail widespread destruction of the natural environment.

The recent temporary destruction of Wooded Isle would seem like a manicure job in comparison. After the first thousand trees are cut down, the land bears no semblance to a park. It becomes a lifeless construction site.

The Olympic Stadium issue also must be considered in its proper time perspective. This is a project that is slated for 2016. Could it be that the current stadium proposals are part of the greater gentrification plan for all land south of the Loop- an east of I-90/94?

I don't believe that Hyde Park will remain intact in the face of this tidal wave of development unless it establishes its identity and its integrity now. Treating our priceless parkland as commercial building fodder is not part of a healthy neighborhood identity. I would hope that our aldermen would lead the way in this fight to protect and define Hyde Park. There is much need for development in the area. The parks, however, have no such need.

[Caveat: the area for the stadium is not a natural area--it was created by Olmsted and successors from a quite different environment and is quite far from both the Washington Park Arboretum and the lagoons. Most of the foot print is in un treed open field, specifically heavily used ball fields (many developed in modern decades.)]

A recent writer to this site says other cities have had no problem using hundreds of hired buses to shuttle athletes and others. Alternates such as trains or CTA buses would displace the regular users and subject them to security searches. (Would not the additional buses create gridlock, and we (as in the HPKCC committee looking at the matter) want permanent improvements such as to roads and transit to come out of any Olympics--things needed anyway.)

But William Zieski cites Olympic opposition as an example of Hyde Park "neophobia," calls on neighborhood to "grow up". Herald, March 21 2007.

....Perhaps it is to complacency that makes only a handful of people show up at the recent "protest" of the stadium plan. Maybe, just maybe, some of us actually see what t he 2016 Olympics can do for Chicago, and our neighborhood. Some of us may actually be able to see that one of our aldermen is opposing the plan out of selfish pique, rather than out of concern for her ward--that she is simply angry about not being included in the process and about learning of the plan only hours before the general public.

...The city's flag includes four stars, one for each of the major events in Chicago's history: .. Those so afraid of change that they would take no risk of attaining greatness would have prevented Chicago from celebrating the last two stars, and left us with only the two tragedies. I say, let's not take away our celebratory stars; let's add one in 2016, and do our part as a neighborhood to make it happen, just as we did 115 years ago. And for goodness' sake, not al change is evil.

 

Joan and Charles Staples answer April 4 2007 that activism is a sign of maturity

We wish to respond to William Zieske (March 21 letter) who is concerned that Hyde Parkers don't want to improve their community. Our objection to Olympic plans concerns the use of park space for a huge non-park structure. We also believe that many of the current residents of the Washington Park area (as well as west of there) will be pushed out rather than included in needed economic development.

As for the post office and barber shop, residents are rightly concerned about the maintenance of successful community resources and businesses. We applaud the retention of these stores, and hope that Hyde Parkers will support businesses that are here, instead of going to the North side or the suburbs.

As long-time residents, we should love to have the clothing stores we used to have, small boutiques, etc. We don't have a decent card shop because it was poorly run. This is not the fault of "immature" Hyde Parkers. We don't know if Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) support the Olympics or not. She certainly has the responsibility to question how it's going to be paid for. If the mayor has made secret deals to use our money, don't you think we should know about it?

Mr. Zieske concludes his remarks by endorsing the Olympics because they will bring us greatness. This will only happen if we use our intelligence and imagination to truly benefit all of us working together. So far, the process that has been used and the few plans that have been publicized put the power in the hands of the politicians and business leaders.

We believe that our community's activism is a sign of maturity, not childishness.

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Therese Nelson says Keep Washington Park a green space. Herald July 25, 2007

I wholeheartedly agree with the editorial by Charles G. Staples about the importance of keeping Washington Park free of stadiums. There are many areas that could greatly benefit from a refreshing and beautiful new stadium. However, green, open park space is very, very valuable and must not be sacrificed to the Olympics. As our cities become denser in terms of people and buildings, and global warming eats up our planet, green space and trees are ever more important to both our health and our mental well-being. Let's find another, even better, location for an Olympic stadium!

 

Chicago Maroon commentary of September 29 2006 presents much of the case for the proposal. Going for gold: Olympics in Chicago

By Samuel Rosenberg

As Chicago moves forward with its bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, it is continuing to do something that is typical of our city: dream big. Despite initial popular plans to concentrate the Olympic events along the lakefront, near the McCormick Place Conference Center and Soldier Field, the layout has now been amended to place the main Olympic Stadium in our back yard, Washington Park. Located on the western border of campus, th is 350-acre park would be an excellent home for the Olympic Stadium. The building of a Olympic stadium in Washington Park will be extremely beneficial to the general bid, the neighborhood, and the city as a whole. Just as the 1893 World's Fair brought development and grandeur to Jackson Park and the Midway, an Olympic Stadium will do the same for the expanse to the west, Washington Park.

This dramatic shift will greatly benefit the bid as a whole, improving the City's general chances of winning the games. As opposed to offering highly condensed facilities along the lakefront, the City can now showcase its diverse neighborhoods in addition to maintaining a significant amount of continuity. Lakefront venues such as Soldier Field and McCormick Place will still allow for made-for-TV shots of the shore and skyline, while preventing an overly crowded lakefront.

The neighborhood would also greatly benefit from the construction. The firm that is organizing this bid is none other than Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, the same organization that is working on the Freedom Tower at New York's Ground Zero and that brought Chicago the Sears and Trump towers. Furthermore, the private partnership that has already come together to promote this project is one of tremendous merit. The collection of Chicago executives that is leading this bid does have the financial backing to follow through on its guarantee that tax dollars will not be wasted on the project, no matter how high the cost of this venture becomes. Not only can these names talk the talk, but they can surely walk the walk.

Those who are criticizing the plan, such as Aldermen and Mayoral candidates, are looking at this as an attempt for Mayor Daley to appeal to South Side voters. But that is beside the point, given the logistical benefits behind this move. While a large stadium along the lakefront could only have been serviced by Lake Shore Drive, the facility in Washington Park would be easily connected to both Lake Shore Drive (via the Midway) and the newly improved Dan Ryan. Additionally, it is clear hat funds would go to improve the dilapidated Green Line, which runs within three blocks of the park on both the south and west sides. Improved public transportation routes and a more sensible location are just the beginning of the benefits behind a relocation of the facility.

For years, Washington Park has served as an insurmountable hurdle for prosperity, with stable Hyde Park on one end and an impoverished neighborhood on the other. Any individual who has taken the #55 bus within the past 20 years can easily notice the difference. Despite its illustrious history as a Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux-designed park, it is currently a shadow of its former glory. No sensible individual would venture into the park after dark, and most have no reason to enter it during the day. Although the complete plan has not been released, there is no doubt that a construction project of this magnitude would not only create hundreds of thousands of jobs, but bring increased business investment to the neighborhood. The 95,000-seat stadium would be partially taken down to provide a 10,000 seat venue for after the games. Furthermore, our University would benefit via an expansion of the Ratner Center to include Olympic locker rooms.

Although Chicago still needs to beat out Los Angeles and San Francisco to win the American competition, the international decision will also be tight with cities such as Madrid and Rio de Janeiro already entering the competition. With the final decision being made in 2009, there is no doubt that this is going to be a long, drawn out process, but if we do win the honor to host the games, then truly, not only will the City of Chicago benefit, but so will the Washington Park community, and the needy South Side.

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October 6 University of Chicago Chronicle also took a favorable view. By Sabrina Miller.

When Mayor Richard Daley announced in September that Washington Park would be the cornerstone for Chicago's revamped 2016 Olympics proposal, it put a spotlight on the mid-South Side and, by extension, the University. That spotlight has the potential to be "extraordinarily positive" said Hank Webber, Vice President of Community and Government Affairs. "I'm extremely excited about this announcement and what it can mean for this community," Webber said. "It create an enormous opportunity to jumpstart community development."

When problems with an earlier proposal to stage the Olympics downtown along the lakefront put Chicago at a disadvantage with the United States Olympics Committee, Daley and the Chicago 2016 Committee focused the proposal on historic Washington Park- just blocks from the University, with boundaries between 51st Street to the north and 60th Street on the south, and Cottage Grove Avenue on the east and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive on the west. President Zimmer is a member of the Chicago 2016 steering committee, which consists of business, political and other civic leaders in the Chicago area.

Daley and Patrick Ryan, chairman of the Chicago 2016 Committee, flanked by area aldermen and community leaders at a Wednesday, Sept. 20 news conference, mentioned the University as an institution that would be a "partner" in the process of staging a successful Olympic games. They also said the games could bring an economic and cultural bounty to the Washington Park neighborhood and surrounding areas. The park, designed by famed architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux, would be "restored to its original elegance," Ryan said.

The park is a home to many popular festivals, including the African Festival of the Arts, and is also home to the DuSable Museum of African-American History as well as what is often regarded as the city's best-organized cricket league. Daley added that the games also would provide jobs, housing and other economic benefits for the community.

The revised plan, submitted to USOC officials on Friday, Sept. 22, calls for University athletic centers to be used as warm-up facilities for athletes. The plan also calls for Washington Park to be the site of the opening and closing ceremonies in a temporary, 95,000-seat stadium that would be downsized to 10,000 seats after the games, track and field events, open-air festivals and the Olympic Cauldron. Chicago is a finalist competing for the U.S. bid against San Francisco and Los Angeles, which held the games in 1932 and 1984.

"The indirect effects have the potential to be large and extraordinarily positive," Webber said. "The fact that they would propose doing this in Washington Park is something that would not have even been considered 10 years ago."

Webber said there was a time when 55th Street "seemed very far away from downtown." But with development of the South Loop extending past Cermak Road, and revitalization in North Kenwood and other near-South and mid-South neighborhoods, the Olympic plan makes perfect sense, Webber said. "It shows that there is a sense of great vibrancy on the South side and that all of these factors were taken into consideration and symbolized by this announcement," Webber said.

About the specific impact on the University Webber conceded, "logistically, we have a lot of work to do" but that the decade between now and 2016 offers some breathing room. "It's in 2016 - fortunately we've got some time," he said. Top


South Siders split on Washington Park 2016 Olympic proposal

Maroon, October 17, 2006 by Hassan S. Ali

After city efforts to secure the bid the host the 2016 Olympic Games reached new height last week, local South Side residents and community activists filled the Washington Park Field House Saturday morning to discuss the impact of pending Olympic plans on their neighborhoods.

Cecilia Butler, in her 16th year as president of the Washington Park Advisory Council, made the morning's agenda clear from the beginning. "Today is not a meeting of why we don't want" the Olympics, Butler said to the roughly 50 people in attendance. "Otherwise, we will be here for days," she said, reminding the audience to consider "what it would take for you to support the Olympics."

The community meeting stemmed from the Chicago Olympic Committee's decision last last month to make Washington Park the prospective site of a 95,000-seat Olympic stadium, pending Chicago's selection 2009 as host city.

The decision, which Butler said was a surprise to her and other community leaders, has propelled the 380-acre historical park to the center of a debate among area residents, many of whom fear the plans will run them out of neighborhoods they have lived in for decades. "As a child, I went to day camp here," Butler said, adding that suggestions made to the advisory board at the meeting would be directly delivered to the mayor's office and superintendent of parks. "The power of your advisory council depends on what work you want to put in it," she said.

Before opening the floor to the audience, Butler said she has supported the city's plan to convert the Olympic stadium to a permanent 10,000 -seat amphitheater after the Games. She said the city has seriously considered the advisory council's request to build the stadium in the Seven Hills are on the southeast portion of the park, rather than the common grounds, which have been home to community sporting activities for over half a century. Butler said the Chicago Olympic Committee and City Hall have been cooperative and open to discussion with community leaders.

"I've seen it [the park] go from nothing to something," said Barbara Prude, who lives at East 60th Street and South Eberhart Avenues. A supporter of the Washington Park Olympic plans, Prude suggested urging the city to focus on potential parking shortages, tax increases, street lighting, and jobs for local residents.

Butler said the advisory council has suggested that the city convert the area behind the DuSable Museum into an underground parking lot, similar to Grant Park and Millennium Park downtown, to address the parking situation.

Local resident Kamilah Jarvis said one of her biggest concerns was the neighborhood's poor driving conditions. She also called for improved street lighting around the park, the need for hotels, and more grocery stores. "The streets have to be paved and drivable, not a roller coaster ride," she said to a round of applause from the audience.

Linda Austin, president of the Harris Park Advisory Council, echoed Jarvis's sentiments, supporting a Washington Park-housed Olympics. "We need improvement here," Austin told the advisory board.

Samantha Robinson of South Chicago said the city should connect with advisory councils in Atlanta, host of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, and "learn from them. I know that there are no cookie-cutter solutions to this," Robinson said.

The city moved another step forward Thursday in bolstering its candidacy, becoming the first of the three competing U.S. cities--along with San Francisco and Los Angeles--to unveil its official Olympic logo. Dubbed "the beacon" by its designers, the logo features an Olympic flame and silhouette of the Sears Tower-dominated skyline, along with a green and blue color scheme that represents the city's waterfront and parks.

Saturday's meeting fell on the same weekend as Mayor Richard M. Daley's European tour of Athens, the 2004 Olympic host, and London, host of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, in an effort to compare notes with the successfully selected cities.

The meeting soon deviated from its intended purpose, and an agenda intended to garner support for a local Olympics was opposed by some community members.

"There are more pressing needs for our community than an Olympic stadium," said Hal Easton of Woodlawn, adding that he feared gentrification would evict him and fellow residents from their homes.

The atmosphere turned more heated with a brief appearance by Bill "Dock" Walls, a candidate for Chicago's February 2006 mayoral election. An aide under the late former Mayor Harold Washington, Walls insisted that his appearance was not political. "Yes, we want the 2016 Olympics...but I have a commitment to Washington Park," Walls said. "It's important that we're having these discussions now and not waiting until they're breaking ground."

Walls spoke emphatically in front of the group, but incited emotional responses from audience members when he referred to developing the Washington Park community regardless of Chicago's securing the Olympic bid. Walls said that local colleges such as Malcolm X College are in need of athletic facilities and that he would support building a stadium in Washington Park even if Chicago loses the bid. The mayoral candidate added that new and sophisticated athletic facilities would encourage low-achieving students to strive toward higher education at colleges serviced by the new stadium. "We have companies that we as a community can go after," walls said. He also referred to U.S. Cellular's sponsorship to the Chicago White Sox stadium and corporate sponsorship of the renovated Soldier Field. About 10 people stormed out of the room in response to Wall's statements.

"We need to unite as one and concentrate on what's going on in our community ...before the Olympics come," said Murray Johnson, president of the Washington Park Neighborhood Association.

Several audience members continued their criticisms of the city's proposed plans to build in Washington Park, taking argument along racial lines. "This is [happening] because we are the least resistant," said local resident Theodore Drew, referring to the area's predominantly black population. "Take it to Grant Park, take it to Lincoln Park," Drew said about the proposed Olympic stadium.

Some members of the audience complained about the influence of the University of Chicago. One emotional argument called for the Olympic Committee to build the stadium on the track behind Ratner Athletic Center.

Another positive view - lots of benefits

Raymond Sendejas, March 14 2007 Herald

For one of the rare times during my time in Hyde Park, I must vociferously disagree with a position this newspaper has taken. I fully support the Olympic stadium plan and cannot understand the rationale of those who oppose it.

The Herald states that the park is unsuitable for the stadium. However, the stadium will only occupy one portion of the park, leaving the lagoons alone. The area the stadium will go in is vacant and unused save for a few summer weekends. Besides, it's not as if grand plans exist for this spot if we do not get the Olympics.

Rather than fear the impact the stadium will have on Hyde Park, think of the positives. During construction, workers will need to eat lunch somewhere. During the games themselves, Hyde Parkers can rent out their driveways to visitors.

Think of being able to walk to the Olympic stadium! Think of seeing our humble neighborhood on national television for two weeks in the summer of 2016. And, we will get a stadium to be used by local schools and sports league for decades to come.

I'm sure the Kenwood Academy track and football teams would be interested in that. So there is a long-term benefit to the neighborhood as well. What exactly are we afraid of?

In May 2007 Joseph Jankovic and others said the Olympic Committee should be encouraged to lease space in the 47th former Co-op.

Groups protest city's Olympic stadium proposal during site visit; various view (Preckwinkle uncommitted? see below) Park closed to public for the day

Herald, March 14, 2007. By Kalari Girtley and Brian Wellner

Several local groups attempted to stage protests at the site of the proposed Olympic stadium in Washington Park the morning of March 7, when the United States Olympic Committee had planned to scope out the area. The Herald spoke to representatives of at least three groups including Friends of Washington Park. Yvonne Kyler, who represents the group, said beginning at 6 a.m. She and at least 20 other people stood in the large swath of park land to protest what may one day hold an 80,000-seat stadium until police told her group to leave, saying that Washington Park was closed for the day.

"They put us out and told us the park is closed," Kyler said. "They surrounded us with police and said the park is closed to the public today."

She and a few members of the group waited in the warmth of their cars parked just outside the arsenal building on Cottage Grove Avenue. Other group members were stationed at key entrances to the park, waiting.

Kyler said that by late morning the committee arrived to the park in busses but never stepped foot outside. They circled the site, which was designated by flags representing different countries, and then left the area. But before leaving they may have caught a glimpse of at least one car decorated with signs of protest to the stadium plan. "We wanted to show them that there are people here whose mouths have not been sealed," said Kyler, a Hyde Park resident.

For at least two hours that morning police had Payne Drive, the park's eastern inner drive, blocked at 55th Street and at Cottage Grove Avenue to through traffic. cars were also not also not allowed to park on the stretch.

While Friends of Washington Park opposes any attempt to pave over green space, Kyler is most concerned with the lack of community input in the process. "It is shameful that they would take a landmark park without consulting the community," she said.

In an article in the Herald in January, Ald. Toni Preckwinkle said she learned about the city's plan only hours before Mayor Richard M. Daley made his announcement last summer. After retaining her aldermanic seat in last month's election, she said she is waiting for a decision from the Chicago Bid Committee before declaring her official stance on the issue. She has been reluctant to support the stadium proposal since daley's announcement.

Cecilia Butler, president of Washington Park's advisory Council and the community representative on the Chicago 2016 committee, said the council lost the fight for where the stadium would be placed but won the right for a community representative to sit on the board.

Butler agrees with the plan. "We don't want to be selfish with our park," butler said. "When the Olympians are going up and down King drive, we will be proud of that."

Her council has been advocating for a long time to build an entertainment venue. She said the 5,000- seat arena that will replace the temporary 80,000-seat stadium after the Olympics are over will save time for organizations that construct makeshift stages during Washington Park's numerous summer festivals.

The University of Chicago is one of the stadium's chief advocates in the neighborhood. "The Olympics offer great potential for long term park improvements and is a great jolt in the rm of community revitaliz

 


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After the US bid won:
The U.S. Olympic Committee visited, and announced its decision in April 14, 2007, which was to award its nod to Chicago.
(The Int'l Com. will make is selection in October 2009.) The final duke-out with LA was with sweeteners, implying, one hopes, that the merits of the bids were equivalent. (A Chicago insurance firm offered to back up to $500 million.)

The visiting committee did not alight from buses during its South Side excursion, so avoiding a small group of opposed demonstrators (report below.) Yet, the visitors were reported by Patrick Sandusky of the Chicago 2016 Committee, pleased at the proximity of each venue to the others and to the lakefront.

The apparent shocker was their insistence that the city back/guarantee from city funds to the tune of $500 million - just a short time after the Mayoral election, Mayor Daley having said there would be not public cost. Actually, it is a backup, partly with sale of city assets by McPier, and is unlikely to involve any kind of appropriation. In city Council, Ald. Preckwinkle voted no, citing lack of transparency or information-sharing, while Ald. Hairston voted yes, saying it is a wonderful thing to host an event on that scale and prestige and full of wonderful things and opportunities for the neighborhoods. (She did call for inclusion and transparency.) She clarified to the April 11 Herald that she hopes Chicago is chosen: "We have a beautiful city, and this will give us an opportunity to share it with the world." Cecilia Butler, President of Washington Park Council, said the stadium will bring tourism an money to the area, and an entertainment venue. The said the next hurdle is answer to the community's other 28 points.

The Chicago Maroon said April 13 that Olympics or not, don't give up (City) on the needs and opportunities of Hyde Park and surrounding communities.

...If Chicago beat Los Angeles [it] will have to undergo a world of change to prepare for this immensely popular, but extraordinarily expensive, spectacle of sports. Chicago's proposal calls for an Olympic stadium with 80,00 seats to be built just west of [U of C] campus in Washington Park. After the Games, the stadium would be partially deconstructed and converted into a 5,000-seat amphitheater for community use. Similarly, the Athletes' Village would be turned into a mixed-income housing complex, offering new opportunities for an entire neighborhood on the South side. The city would finally have the impetus to make much-needed enhancements to area infrastructure, such as improving street lights, repaving roads, and adding parking.

In addition, the large-scale construction projects and influx of an estimated 6 million tourists would galvanize slumbering sectors of the South Side economy, creating new businesses and hundreds of jobs. Higher population density would increase consumer options, bringing new restaurants, boutiques, and grocery stores. Although some local residents worry about being priced out of their neighborhoods, Hank Webber, U o C vice president of Community and Government Affairs, has praised the plans as "extraordinarily positive." He believes that the Olympics would provide a unique chance to jumpstart community development, and we share his optimism.

No matter what happens tomorrow, the people of Chicago can be winners if city officials still strive to improve the areas identified by the bid proposal. The Olympic planning process has prompted the city to assess the needs of normally neglected neighborhoods, and top urban architects should continue to investigate innovative ways of raising the South side to a world-class standard.

The areas around Washington Park need better road and economic revitalization, regardless of whether a multi-million dollar stadium becomes the new next-door neighbor. Mayor Richard M. Daley and Chicago's philanthropic community should keep the prosperity of these areas among their top priorities, regardless of where in the world the Olympics happen to take place. Such a game plan will not only allow city strategists to capitalize on this golden opportunity but also allow the people of the South Side to benefit from vital economic assistance.

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Commentary on and details of winning the bid

Hyde Park Herald, April 18 2007

By Kalari Girtley

As Chicago won the U.S. Olympic bid over the weekend, Washington Park moved one step closer to becoming the site of an 80,000-seat stadium. ...Now the United states faces four other countries for the Games, a decision that will not be made until [October] 2009.

Patrick Sandusky, spokesperson for the Chicago 2016 Committee, said he felt complete jubilation when the decision came in. He said the committee has worked really hard to get community support along with the elected officials. "Now we have to convince international voters that Chicago is the best place for the games, Sandusky said.

Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory Council, said now that the city has the United States bid, she will turn up the heat on Mayor Richard M. dAley about her council's 27 concerns voiced at recent council meetings. The concerns range from greater security and lighting in Washington Park to the construction of a stadium and other facilities.

The proposed stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the XXXI Olympiad Games. The stadium is temporary and will be reduced down to a 5,000 -to-10,000-seat amphitheater after the 28-sport event leaves.

Butler hopes that Hyde Park can tap into any surge in commerce that comes as a result of the Olympics. "The community needs both 53rd street and 55th Street to have a viable business district, Butler said. "There is a lot of work to be done."

Not everyone is excited about Chicago's chances of hosting the Olympics. Ross Petersen, vice-president of the Jackson Park Advisory Council, said he does not want the 111-year-old Olympic festivities in the park. Jackson Park is the site of a proposed field hockey rink. "I think it will forever change the park, and the park will never recover," Petersen said. "There are other locations all over the city that will be just as good. It is just disappointing." Petersen said his council was not consulted when the committee selected Jackson Park as a site.

Chicago Maroon, April 17, 2007. By Aaron Brown

The city of chicago was selected as the American bid city for the 2016 summer Olympics on Saturday, beating two-time Olympic veteran Los Angeles for the opportunity to compete in the international phase of the selection process, which will include such Olympic hopefuls as Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Prague.

The decision...following extensive review of the two American finalists, means that Chicago will now enter a more intense phase of planning and preparation for the international competition. The host city for the 2016 Olympics will be selected by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) on October 2, 2009.

As part of the city's plan for major improvements to the municipal areas most affected by a successful bid, much of the area around the University and Hyde Park will undergo significant economic and residential redevelopment if Chicago is selected in 2009. Washington Park, directly west of campus, would be the site of the Olympic Stadium, an 85,000-seat arena used to host the opening and closing ceremonies as well as several athletic events. Following the Olympics, it would be downsized to a 5,000-seat amphitheater.

The University, which has worked closely with the Chicago 2016 committee to secure the bid, will continue to develop plans for neighborhood development and direct University involvement with the Olympic Games, with use of University athletic facilities being one of the possible forms of cooperation, said Hank Webber, vice president for Community Affairs. President Robert Zimmer's status as a member of the Chicago 2016 committee will facilitate this cooperation. While plans for the University's role remain in nascent stages, many of those determinations will likely be made before the final IOC decision is made, Webber said.

Because the IOC has historically made selections based largely on development plans that bid cities are able to guarantee, Chicago's bid depends on significant and well funded proposals that will appeal to an international electing body. An inability to produce solid plans for the construction of an Olympic stadium, as well as issues regarding adequate transportation for athletes, were important factors in New York City's failed bid for the 2012 Olympics, which was instead awarded to London.

The guarantees that the city has already presented include funding in excess of $1 billion, as well a a significant academic fund that would enable participants of the 2016 games to attend various Chicago-area universities. The scholarship fund, publicly announced following Chicago's final presentation to the USOC in Washington, D.C. was the result of an agreement by several Chicago universities, including the U of C, to provide funds for Olympic athletes.

While the University has not committed a specific dollar amount for the fund, Webber expressed a commitment by th University to support the Olympic committee's efforts. "The Olympic committee has put together a proposal that provides scholarships for athletes, and given that we're able to provide for the full financial needs of our students, we're in a position to do this," Webber said. "Within our admissions policy, there'll be room to do something creative. We'll be working with [the Chicago 2016 committee].'

Aside from the support that the University will provide toward the Olympic effort, Webber cited tremendous benefits for the University and the community despite lingering concerns that major redevelopment of the South Side will intensify gentrification and contribute to increased housing costs that could put financial pressure on lower income residents. "Many of the concerns are going to need to be addressed. I am absolutely confident that with the energy generated, this will be a boon for the city, an enormous boon for the University and a great boon for the community. But it's going to take a lot of work," Webber said.

Speaking at a lunchtime rally in Daley Plaza yesterday, Senator Barack Obama highlighted how the Olympics will hit close to home. "Now I have to admit I'm also happy that we got that new stadium coming in Washington Park, because that's only a couple blocks from my house, so I'm going to be able to just walk a couple blocks to see it," he said. " I know it's not 'til 2016, but I should be back from Washington by then."

At a rally held in Washington Park Field House yesterday, black community leaders, joined by Mayor Richard Daley, gathered with South Side residents to celebrate Chicago's selection over Los Angeles. Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory Council (WPAC), opened the proceedings with a whole-hearted and enthusiastic endorsement of the USOC's decision. Butler and the WPAC previously produced a list of 27 points that the council thinks need to be addressed in order to make Washington Park's centrality to the Olympics beneficial to both the Games and to local residents.

Included among these requests are WPAC representation on the Chicago Olympic Committee, job training and Olympics-related internships for local students, improved safety and conditions in Washington Park, and support for cooperative housing. While few of the committee's concerns were addressed during Monday's rally, which took a largely celebratory tone, Butler said in a prior interview that the committee's concerns remained a top priority for the WPAC.

"Our position has not changed," Butler said. "We support the Olympics, but we're asking the mayor and everyone else to support jobs, the economy, and the community. That campaign started Saturday."

While not specifically citing the WPAC's list, Daley did emphasize the important role that the Olympics would play in the lives of local students. "We're going to every grammar school and high school.. to open the eyes of young people about Olympic sports," he said, invoking the history of prominent South Side residents who have gone on to become successful Olympians, including Jesse Owns and rally-speaker Mike Conley. Top

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Valerie Jarrett, Chicago Olympic Committee vice chair and Hyde Parker, says Olympic Committee now to seek much more community input, first meetings held, set. Answered questions for half an hour at 4th Ward meeting, later met in Washington Park May, July.

Hyde Park Herald May 2, 2007. By Kalari Girtley

Valerie Jarrett, a member of the committee trying to bring the Olympic Games to Chicago, apologized for excluding local participation in the recent bid process during a 4th Ward meeting April 28.

Promising more input from neighborhoods that would be directly affected if Chicago hosts the 2016 Olympics, Jarrett, who is the committee's vice-chairman, said the selection process was held in secret to keep Chicago ahead of the competition.

Now that Chicago has beaten out Los Angeles for the United States bid, Jarrett said there would be more transparency between now and 2009, when the final host city is selected. "We have said very consistently that we want to have an inclusive, transparent and collaborative process," said Jarrett, a long time Hyde Park resident.

Jarrett took questions from the audience for 30 minutes. The audiences raised concerns about the effects on property taxes and public transportation to the magnitude of the 80,000-seat stadium proposal for Washington Park.

Everette Edwards, a Kenwood resident who has been critical of the city's planning of the Olympics, felt reassured. "I support the Olympics, and I believe that we are headed in th right direction," Edwards said.

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th), who has also criticized the Olympic committee's exclusive nature, said Jarrett reassured her that the committee will work closely with the various parks groups and aldermen who will be directly affected by the summer games.

Preckwinkle hopes to see the Olympic committee members out at more community functions. "They are really going to step up their community outreach, and I think that is desperately needed," Preckwinkle said. "It is not right for people in the neighborhood to read about things in the newspaper and to not have an opportunity to hear the information personally."

By the meeting's conclusion, Jarrett said she felt the committee was well received by residents.

In hoping to engage local residents, Jarrett said the committee plans to attend more community meetings. "We are going to make ourselves as available as we can.. to manage what can be an extraordinarily positive event for our community," Jarrett said.

Another meeting with the Chicago Olympics 2016 Committee is scheduled at 9 a.m. on May 5 at the Washington Park Field House, 5531 S. King Dr.

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Writing in the Herald, La'Keisha Gray-Sewell, South Side mom of USAG Region 5 Level 4 Champion Marquis Sewell, indicts Chicago for failure to provide good training faculties for athletes on the south side. She notes the trials of Park District coach Darrell Harden's teams in trying to hold a program together that inspires youth to strive toward championships with no faculties.

"The arrogance of Chicago to boast its ability to host the international athletic community while its own athletes receive poor, second-class treatment speaks volumes to our priorities. Chicago is whose kind of town?"

 

Report on early May meetings of HPKCC, Washington Park Advisory Council and WP Olympic Group. Including latest draft of WP Points and a letter of appeal from Washington Park Neighborhood Association

By Gary Ossewaarde, HPKCC Parks Chairman

Olympic update by Gary Ossewaarde, May 6, 2007

At the May 3 HPKCC board meeting it was reported that we have received no response to our questions and concerns sent to the Chicago Olympic Committee and Mayor Daley.

Next, a synopsis (as updated here) was provided on the April 18 2007 Washington Park Advisory Council (WPAC) meeting. WPAC meetings will hereafter not take up the Olympics on a regular basis—this will be handled by a separate Washington Park Olympics Committee, to meet first Saturdays at 9 am at Washington Park fieldhouse starting May 5. That committee will refine the “26 Points” of demands and questions on the Olympics and draft a Community Benefits Agreement to be submitted to the Chicago Committee.

Discussed at the April 18 WPAC meeting: Cities tend to loose money and be stuck with costs, especially policing, but this varies according to conditions. The WPAC meeting, like the HPKCC board meeting, wished to get more specifics on experience from Los Angles and Atlanta; at both meetings persons said they have contacts they can ask. It was reported that at WPAC U of C professor Alan Sanderson was cited to the effect that LA’s experience may not apply because so many countries didn’t come; Atlanta came close to even. It was said at the HPKCC meeting that London is currently in the red.

At the May 3 HPKCC board meeting, it was pointed out that the Olympic Committee runs the show and decides who pays what. Our concerns emphasize what happens after as well as during the Olympics—what negatives are left behind, whether and what benefits are secured and not pulled up or left to languish.

Noted was a Herald announcement of what it billed as a public meeting with members of the Chicago Olympic Committee for May 5 (announced at a Q and A with vice chair Valerie Jarrett April 28 at the 4th Ward meeting.) The Parks Committee was directed to meet and decide next steps after the advertised May 5 meeting has occurred.

It turned out at the May 5 meeting that when the May 5 meeting was announced as public, Washington Park Council (Cecilia Butler and board) pulled its invitation to the Chicago 2016 Committee, feeling that WPAC should have a chance to meet with them first. WPAC did not advertise this meeting. The Chicago Committee told WPAC chair Cecilia Butler in their concurrence that they will meet first with aldermen after the new City Council is sworn in May 21, then with WPAC, and then schedule a public meeting for the area around Washington Park in June or later.

At the May 5 meeting, Butler distributed a 26-point document in process of revision and consolidation, setting forth “What it will take to support this event in our park.” Some of the 20 or so people present proposed additional items, clarifications or consolidation. There seemed to be a desire to separate general community needs or concerns that should be worked on anyway and perhaps leveraged via the Olympics from items specific to the Olympics. Butler noted with appreciation HPKCC’s set of questions and concerns.

There was a sizable number who would rather oppose the Olympics period, and said they and their organizations were being squeezed out of the process and that the Washington Park residents (west of King Dr.) should have been polled. There was strong feeling that the communities need to organize now to avoid being driven out; some called for setting aside differences and working together. This is in addition to strong distrust of anything said by or worked out with the Olympic Committee or aldermen. The Washington Park Neighborhood Association passed out flyers signed by Murray Johnson calling its own meeting on the Olympics for May 19 and intent to send a delegation to the May 23 City Council meeting. (See Below.)

The new Olympic working group is looking over a Community Agreement Packet and have identified agencies and others that help communities negotiate them. Also, they want to have planning and design charette's to come up with “how you shoulds/cans” for the Olympic Committee.

Concerns brought up:
· Persons who say they work in city and other government said that all kinds of funds from social services to schools, parks and transportation are being pulled out of their bins and being diverted for the Olympics. Demand impact studies.
· Real jobs are a major concern—real training, preparing kids for apprenticeships etc. (There was much discussion of state law and other structural blockage to trades jobs and apprenticeships to persons with convictions.)
· Quality schools—there was consensus to seek “preferred funding” since the area is impacted (note that the federal government has provided such help to communities near bases for example for decades) and since the Olympics are supposed to inspire kids to aspire and excel. Tying in with Sports Association funds (grants for programs that are linked to having kids “involved with, learning about Olympics” was considered important. Pointed out was that only about 50% of kids in the neighborhoods to the west of the park graduate.
· Additional impact studies beyond “environmental”
· Improving infrastructure and access and providing some parking, although there were fears that the latter would encourage people to drive and some said the area already has fine transportation. (Note- although not specifically said here, there is widespread fear that people cannot in any fashion be moved timely to and from the huge stadium.) Temporary residential permit parking was desired. Among infrastructure stressed was lighting.
· There was strong desire to acquire buildings or funds to create “cooperative housing,” citing the buildings at 48th and Lake Park and 80th and Morgan. Housing and ability to stay in the area was considered a key in planning
· Guarantee that amenities such as streetscape will be kept up rather than ripped out like after the Democratic Convention was considered important.
· Re the residual stadium—the idea of asking for an enclosed facility for year-around use was well received. Location was not discussed; the Points say 7-Hills. Keeping its revenue in the park was considered a key need.
· Protecting the arboretum, green space, existing facilities was important.

Following are the Washington Park Council’s statement of points as of May 5 (including dropping relocation of the stadium to seven hills section south of 57th St. (too small)) after that the letter from Washington Park Neighborhood Association.

Olympics in Washington Park 2016
What will it take to support this event in our park

· Representation on the Chicago Olympic Committee [announced as granted]
· A Community Benefit Agreement
· Referendum on the ballot concerning taxes and eminent domain
· Jobs, Jobs and more Jobs
· Job training, internships and apprentice programs via City Colleges of Chicago- tuition free
· Environmental Impact Study
· Economic Development: grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, concessions, vendors, business strip development and grassroots business opportunities
· Improved infrastructure within the Park i.e., streets, an underground parking lot and a pedestrian crosswalk at 55th Street
· Improved safety in and around the Park
· Residential paring permits
· If users of the Harold Washington Common Ground i.e., ball players, soccer and cricket players, must be relocated, user fees should be deleted or reduced
· Renewal of the sewer system in the Park and surrounding Communities.
· Support cooperative housing for the residents who now live adjacent to the Park to ensure that the rental community can afford to stay in the area in the future
· Contacting the Atlanta and Los Angeles Olympic Committees to find the pros, cons and aftermath of the Olympics in their City
· Free or reduced admission tickets to the events
· Preservation of green space when at all possible
· Improvements to our educational system, geared toward the Olympics i.e., sports, entrepreneurial and the building trades
· Grants to the surrounding communities to fix-up their property
· Concession agreements for the African-American Community through [I]infinity
· Building trade contracts for the African-American Community, with an On-The-[Job]-Training Component
· Restaurant partnership with the Washburn Culinary Arts Program at South Shore Cultural Center
· Programs and projects which include the Disabled Population
· At the end of the Olympics, immediate reduction of the 80,000-seat stadium to a 5,000-seat amphitheatre in the Seven Hills area.
· Reinstating and improving all programs within the Park i.e., field house programs, baseball, little league, cricket, soccer, bridle path and a New Soft Ball Complex
· Shared control of the 5,000-seat amphitheater with all profits staying in Washington Park to support its programs.
· Retention of the Historic Landmark Status of Washington Park, an Olmsted Park.
· Inclusion of the surrounding community residents present at the historic meeting of the Washington Park Advisory Council in the Washington Park Refectory Oct. 14, 2006, representing the Washington Park, Grand Boulevard, Hyde Park and the Woodlawn Communities.

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Talk turns to "What's in it for Hyde Park?"

Len Walter at Chamber of Commerce event calls for an organization to manage Olympic needs, get what and publicity the community needs. The Hyde Park Herald picked up on this, endorses getting organized to boost HP and ask for what Hyde Park needs (May 16 Herald)

May 8 2007 the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce had Len Walter, the business/financial editor of WBBM NewsRadio 780, speak at its monthly Business to Business soiree at Bank Financial. He said that business activity will intensify and so will impacts as the time for the Olympics approaches, maybe taxes and pressures on affordability also--people will want to be here. He warned that if we don’t push ourselves and our needs on the Olympic organizers and the world, we could be shortchanged or even passed over. The community should organize to develop strategies to handle the impacts and steer things in directions we want them to go. This means going to and making our needs know to government agencies, media, businesses of all sizes, institutions and foundations. Two agenda items of such a committee or organization are: getting every bit of publicity possible the good things we have to offer and demanding improvements that will last. The latter includes infrastructure, transportation, landscaping, parks, schools above all, security, and retail and development. He also suggested we start working with the organizations in the other communities that will be close to the Olympics and find ways to engage the schools to use the Olympics as inspiration for schools and the kids and to get the money that is available for "Olympics related learning." We should use that word "impacted."

Judging from what was said by way of introduction and engagement of Mr. Walter, lead business organizations support organizations and institutions in Hyde Park have already decided to form such an Olympics organization for Hyde Park. Asked about what kind of outside business support we can expect, he said to forget the large corporations--they have already been tapped out by the city for Olympics. He did suggest that it is in the realm of feasibility to persuade a couple or more corporations to relocate headquarters in Hyde Park, close to the Olympics and to our many amenities and the University.

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May 16 Herald echoes, What's in it for Hyde Park?

All the publicity surrounding the Olympics suggests that the mother of all international competitions is coming to Chicago in 2016. But let's not be fooled. The Olympics are coming to Hyde Park.

If the city wins the bid in two years, the biggest events of the competition will be right here in our backyard, in both Washington and Jackson parks. And the athletes will be housed not far away, in a proposed "Olympic Village" to be built over the truck staging area south of McCormick Place, in the 4th Ward.

There is the possibility that 3.6 billion people worldwide will watch the Olympics on TV and see not only Chicago and its big shoulders but also Hyde Park and its landmarks like Promontory Point, Rockefeller Chapel and the Robie House.

The Herald wants to echo an opinion given by Len Walter, the business/financial editor of WBBM NewsRadio 780, to the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce last week. The Olympics present a real opportunity for Hyde Parkers to showcase their community, he said. It would be a shame if local community, business and political leaders fumbled on the kind of opportunity that only comes once in a century.

In fact it has been more than 100 years since Hyde Park last hosted an international event. The Museum of Science and Industry are a few vestiges of the Columbian Exposition of 1893 that still exist. Hotels like the Windermere (still standing as apartments [sic] were built in anticipation of the 1893 fair.

What are Hyde Parkers capable of building in anticipation of the Olympics? Or should this community leave all decisions up to City Hall? Hyde Parkers should seize their market share.

Imagine more than two million visitors in Washington Park at one time. Are there any restaurants facing Washington Park? Are there any within a comfortable walking distance?

The DuSable Museum might receive a jump in attendance during the 17 days of the Olympics. But anyone who would visit the stadium has only an armory, a storage facility, apartment buildings and a parking garage along Cottage Grove Avenue to look at. That doesn't entice visitors to want to explore the neighborhood.

Hyde Park's busiest street, 53rd, doesn't even go through to Cottage Grove [directly]. One would have to navigate the one ways and the dead ends of residential west Hyde Park to discover t he 53rd Street that Hyde Parkers know.

There is nothing luring visitors down 55th Street either. One would have to know a Hyde Parker to know about Jimmy's or Seven Ten Lanes for a drink or Court Theater for a show and the Smart Museum for an art exhibit. It has been recommended that a brochure be created just about Hyde Park for all the visitors of the Olympics.

How about bussing Olympians down 57th Street or the Midway Plaisance to show off Hyde Park's unique architecture, both in landscape and building? Or if Olympians use the electric line, then shuttles can transport tem down 47th or 512st Streets, which are ripe for new commercial development. The Herald has been reporting on a possible new development to replace Village Center. Perhaps the 47th Street Co-op will be filled before 2016.

And once they're here, what's next? Chamber President Jim Poueymirou suggested that some of our present businesses improve their customer service, as there could potentially be a swarm of outsiders like Hyde Park has never seen.

Residents can expect that the streets surrounding Washington Park will be repaved with new streetlights. Demand that the side streets receive the same attention too. And throw in all of Hyde Park's broken and uneven sidewalks. If lives are to be disrupted for those17 days, demand long-lasting, community benefits.

The Herald is still opposed to the construction of an 80,000-seat stadium in Washington Park, having argued in previous editorials that our green space should not be sacrificed for a building of any kind. But this community cannot ignore how Hyde Park merchants and residents can benefit from such an international event.

Tribune article of June 29 2007 says areas of impact need economic jolt, urges minority businesses to gear up. Says to learn from previous, developing Olympics

By Susan Chandler (Note, the original Urban League document is on their website, www.thechicagourcanleague.org.)

Chicago can learn a lot from the Atlanta Olympics about including African-Americans in the economic boom the games provide, but the Los Angeles Olympics are more of a lesson in what to avoid.

These are some of the conclusions of an eight-week study by the Kellogg School of Management and the Chicago Urban League, which is launching a major effort to get Chicago's black-owned businesses up to speed for the games. The study identifies "best practices" that Chicago can follow to boost minority involvement if it wins the international competition to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

The study also urged local minority businesses to invest in growth now because if they wait until a Chicago Olympics is a sure thing it will be too late. The city will not know until 2009 if it is the winning bidder.

"This is an incredible opportunity to put on steroids a lot of what we are talking about-- how to create a more robust infrastructure in our communities or build it from the ground up. The Olympics represents an opportunity to do this on an accelerated pace," Cheryl Jackson, the Urban League's new president, said Wednesday.

"If not approached correctly, the Olympics could not only bypass communities, it could exacerbate the gap between the haves and the have-nots," Jackson said.

Mayor Richard Daley and the Chicago Olympic organizing committee have touted the economic benefits that will accrue to struggling communities as a reason to devote millions in public and private resources to bringing the games here, but such benefits are not guaranteed. The games last only 16 days and all profits flow back to Olympic committees. Still, visitors to a Chicago Olympics are projected to spend $2 billion, and more than 81,000 full-time jobs would be created, more than half of them in the service sector.

In looking at the experiences of other cities the Urban League found that Atlanta did a lot of things right, including making African-American participation a priority and ensuring that the black community was represented on the committee that awarded contracts, the study found.

When the 1996 games were over more than 50 percent of the $650 million in construction spending had gone to minority firms and about a third of all contracts went specifically to African-American-owned businesses.

Los Angeles, by contrast, had good intentions but failed to prepare its minority businesses for the Olympic challenge in 1984. The city granted 65 licenses that allowed companies to bid on rights to manufacture Olympic-sponsored goods. Twenty-six of those went to minority vendors. But 17 companies failed to meet minimum financial requirements, and many African-American businesses lost money because they didn't sell enough products to cover the cost of the license. More importantly, perhaps, the biggest contracts connected to the L.A. games did not go to African-American firms, the study found.

Chicago may be able to pick up tips from Olympic Games that haven't happened yet. London, which is hosting the 2012 games, has done a good job of setting up a "user-friendly on-line interface" for Olympic contracts, the Urban League said. Companies can see all available contracts and submit a bid online. If they register on the site they can receive alerts when new proposals are put ut to bid.

"It's a smart, transparent process that everybody can get behind," said David Thigpen, the Urban League's vice president for policy research. The predominantly African-American neighborhoods that will host many of Chicago's proposed Olympic venues could benefit from an economic jolt.

Washington Park, the South Side neighborhood that would feature the Olympic stadium, has a 21 percent unemployment rate, according to the Urban League. Almost 50 percent of households earn less than $15,000 a year.

In the Douglass neighborhood south of McCormick Place, which would share the site of the Olympic Village with the South Loop, unemployment hovers around 28 percent and annual income is less than $35,000 for almost two-thirds of households. [In table: Oakland 21.1, Grand Boulevard 20.3, Kenwood 11.0, Woodlawn 16.4, even Hyde Park 5.8 % unemployed, which is more than a point above the national average.]

Even though the Urban League applauded Atlanta for many minority-related initiatives, not everything went right. Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell hired a friend to sell licenses to street vendors in a historically black corridor leading to the games. That angered the Olympic committee, which worried that those merchandise sales would cut into its own. In retaliation pedestrian traffic was diverted from the street where vendors were set up. Many small firms shut down after several days and some went bankrupt, the study found.

To make sure that doesn't happen here Jackson is urging Chicago's African-American businesses to begin getting ready now. Entrepreneurs should think about investing in the tourism and hospitality industries. Small black-owned firms should consider partnering with others to achieve the scale they will need to bid on large contracts.

To help minority-owned businesses get ready the Urban League is christening an Entrepreneurship Center at its headquarters, 4510 S. Michigan Ave., on Thursday. "We have time to scale up our businesses," Jackson said.

Urban League Recommendations: The Olympic Committee should:

Black-owned businesses should:

The city should:

Establish a commission attached to the mayor's office to oversee revitalization within a one-mile radius of Olympic venues.

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John McDermott at May 19 2007 area housing summit notes probable pressures on housing from Olympics. (as in Herald)

Hyde Park resident John McDermott said that Hyde Park might face housing problems if the Olympics are placed in Washington Park in 2016 and the South Loop continues to stretch into Douglas, with new business and housing developments.

McDermott brought up that while city officials are hoping the Olympics will produce revenue for the city as a whole, businesses and residents who may be affected by the Games' arrival, mainly in Kenwood and Hyde Park, are concerned about losing land to gentrification. He wondered what benefits Hyde Park will reap by the Olympics' popularity, particularly in housing.

"Hyde Park might be facing a whole new set of problems," McDermott said.

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At and after the June 2, 2007 large meeting

Summary of HPKCC and Olympics watch, and report on June 2 2007 discussion at Washington Park with members of the Chicago 2016 Committee

Olympic process and outcome watched by HPKCC committees

As soon as the announcement was made in September 2006 to place the 80,000 stadium centerpiece of Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid in Washington Park, our Parks committee, with help from Development-Preservation and Zoning, began examining the issues and considering what would be needed to make the experience positive for our and the other impacted South Side communities should the plan go forward.
While many flatly oppose the Olympics for a variety of reasons, the Conference has not taken a global position but instead seeks a community input process and has expressed to Chicago2016 (the bid committee), Mayor Richard M. Daley, and Parks General Superintendent Timothy Mitchell, a broad range issues and matters that must be addressed—not only for a successful experience but also before we and communities can sign on with the essential “local support” that the city must show the International Olympic Committee. As President Rumsey concluded in his cover letter to the sent document of February 25, 2007, “HPKCC and the rest of Hyde Park will be in better position to show that support when these concerns are addressed.”

To date, HPKCC and Superintendent Mitchell are in process of setting up a small preliminary discussion. And members of the Olympic Committee have begun the process of small group meetings, promise public meetings, and expressed interest in discussing our document with the Conference.

One key disappointment remains public parks policy precedent: …” why the decision to site facilities in parks was not accompanied by an explanation as to why non-park vacant areas in need of development were not considered ahead of parks. This overlooked the fact that parks are already dedicated” with their own public uses, “…heavily used, close to sensitive natural areas, and already have parking, traffic, and crowd problems.” We said we are disappointed at displacement of ball teams, especially youth, and seek special accommodations.

Another disappointment was the secrecy, speed, and lack of consultation in placement of high-intensity venues in our communities. We have hopes that real and ongoing communication will happen, but our committee—similarly to other communities we have consulted—is insistent that input—strategic planning involving communities—is undertaken from early in the process and not just when plans have been solidified.

Our questions were grouped by topics and before-during-after. They include:
· Preparation impacts and long-term impacts on South Side communities and parks and whether there will be thorough impact studies including of what’s put back and how are things made better for parks, communities and people without driving current residents out or excluding them from park facilities,
· Management of the large amount of construction, and incoming crowds traffic and the needed amenities, and the reconstruction/restoration process,
· Traffic and access,
· Potential neighborhood redevelopments, and
· Impact on proximate institutions and facilities. We also raised questions about non-Washington Park Olympic venues.

Many of the improvements we raised are matters that maybe should be addressed whether Chicago gets the Olympics or not, and which others in the community are raising, along with how to publicize and enable visitors to take advantage of what Hyde Park has to offer.

Persons in other neighborhoods are also thinking along these lines. For example, Washington Park Advisory Council’s Olympic Committee is in discussion with Chicago2016 about a 26 Point Plan. Besides park issues (including guaranteed restorations and improvements) these include a community benefit agreement, jobs and job training, schools upgrades and using the Olympics notoriety and funding as a start to reclaiming kids lives, economic/retail and infrastructure redevelopment, cooperative and other housing programs, help to owners to fix up property and a fund set aside for the coming tax increases, and means for participation and accommodation of neighbors and the disabled in the Olympics, and a permanent indoor track and training facility (the Armory if the amphitheater cannot so serve).

One of the first local meetings held by a large leadership contingent from the Chicago2016 Olympic Committee was co-hosted June 2 with the Washington Park Advisory Council in the park’s Refectory. About seven presented, including local resident Arnold Randall, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office. The 2016 Committee has 140 members, three of whom three live near Washington Park: Cecilia Butler, Valerie Jarrett, and Shirley Newsome (Butler and Jarrett, presiding were present). Videos were shown and a new brochure introduced, “The Games and Washington Park.” Presentations and answers to complex questions showed that the Olympics committee is starting to seriously research the questions, knows it needs to hear more concerns and suggestions, and that plans are still very preliminary.

Newly-announced decisions: Eminent domain will not be used and no land outside the park needed. The stadium will take up no more than a fifth and the support services no more than another fifth of the north half of Washington Park. Resident permit parking will be used in the neighborhood during the Olympics. The stadium will be removed as promised and great care taken with the “legacy” amphitheater: No “white elephants” or damage to the vistas (although there will be a permanent reduction in or ball fields) but a multiple-use, showcase facility. There will be an area non-ticket holders can come and view the games (on large screens?) and feel the atmosphere. Construction will take two years and the Olympics will open in early July 2016. Park Superintendent Mitchell said the goal is to leverage the funding and combine it with other sources so the parks will have the changes they need.

Top criteria for the Committee are: It must work well for the athletes. The legacy has to be a real and usable one. The Games have to be successful for the neighborhoods with redevelopment spurred, and compatible with existing residents—involvement of all departments is underway to make sure all can stay and there is job creation. The youth have to be helped and inspired (starting this summer). Showcase the city. The committee realizes the importance of infrastructure particularly transit, but was vague on what might be needed, the ball being perhaps in other courts. No parking or non-transit way for visitors to get to the games will be provided.

Next step in the Olympics process is submission of the formal bid September 13.

The Washington Park Olympic Committee and subcommittees will meet monthly on first Saturdays, 9 a.m. at Washington Park field house, 5531 S. King Drive

Contact for the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee: (312) 552-2016, FAX (312) 861-4802, info@chicago2016.org, website http://www.chicago2016.org.

Contact us at (773) 288-8343 or at hpkcc@aol.com.

More about the Washington Park Olympic Committee and the June 2 meetings

Local advisory council creates its own 2016 Olympic committee. Hyde Park Herald June 20, 2007. By Kalari Girtley.

The Washington Park Advisory Council recently debuted its Olympic Committee, which will hold its next meeting on July 7. After several community meetings, the advisory council members composed a 26-point proposal of problems that residents want addressed if the games come to the city.

The points highlight issues of affordable housing, property taxes, eminent domain and economic developments. The points also address the community benefit agreement that states funds generated by the Olympics will improve park infrastructure such as more lighting and rehabilitating the park's sewer system. These points have been developing since last October and was finalized with the Washington Park Olympic Committee kick off meeting.

Rasheedah Johnson and her husband, both Washington Park residents, attended their first ever Olympic community issue meeting. Johnson said she wanted to get involved now so she could protect her home from the possibility of eminent domain." I want to do anything I can to [save] my home," Johnson said. "If it means coming out to these meetings and getting involved, I will do that." [Ed. note: members of the 2016 Olympics committee said at the June 2 Olympic meeting there will be no use of eminent domain.]

Cecilia Butler, president of the Washington Park Advisory council, wants to see a sub-committee formed for each of the 26 points. "These are points that the community cares most about and wants to see addressed," Butler said. Butler said she has been in talks with the Chicago Olympi9c 2016 Committee, and they are listening, but nothing has been finalized.

On the other hand, she said many of the points have to occur if the Olympics come here or not. "We need better streets with or with out the Olympics; we need more economic development with or with out the Olympics, and we need more jobs for our youth and more jobs in general, with or with out the Olympics," Butler said.

Another issue that was raised in the meeting was retaining the park's landmark status after the 80,000-seat arena has been built and reduced to the 5,000-seat entertainment venue when the Olympics departe[s].

Gary Ossewaarde, member of the Jackson Park Advisory Council said the stance that the Washington Park Advisory Council is taking is very unique and he would like to see Jackson Park go down the same road.

"We have not started dealing with it yet because we have been so discouraged that the 9hockey center0 was going to be built in our park," Ossewaarde said. "We have not found it possible to take a position on it."

The next Washington Park Olympic committee meeting will occur on July 7 at 9 a.m. in the field house, 5531 S. King Dr.

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Summer thoughts 2007

William F. Zieske, in August 15, 2007 Herald, decries NIMBY approach to Olympics

Mr. Staples' letter (July 11) mentions the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, which transformed our neighborhood to an urban environment, catapulted Hyde Park to its first fame, and truly made Chicago a world-class city.

The history leading up to the Exposition is less well known. I invite the Herald's readers to peruse the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times from 1890 through 1891. It is fascinating to read some of the stories about high-profile haggling among chicagoans in the early 1890s, about whether the Fair should be held on the South Side, West Side, or in Lakefront Park (now Grant Park). New Yorkers argued that Congress should reconsider awarding the coveted Exposition to Chicago, where no one apparently wanted it, and relocate it to their great city, where the entire city would pull together to put on great show for the world. In combination with concern over fiscal over-runs, this became a real possibility.

It is interesting to read the very same arguments Mr. Staples makes--"not-in-my-backyard" or NIMBY arguments--that were vociferously made by various factions nearly 120 years ago, and nearly derailed Chicago's greatest moment in history.

NIMBY goes like this: I support something promising great benefit to me and many others (like the Chicago Olympics), but oppose it being built where more of the burden will fall on me than the others (in my "back yard). Of course, if everyone cries NIMBY, either no one will get the benefit, or (more frequently), the poorest and those with the least influential voice get the burden, and the richest and most influential still reap the benefit, increasing social disparity.

Hyde Park-Kenwood is an affluent neighborhood, and is blessed with more parkland than ANY other neighborhood in the entire city. Look at a city map--we are surrounded by vast green spaces and the blue of our beautiful lake. We have the right resources, transportation facilities, a location just minutes from the Loop, and already have the community vitality and prominence to make Hyde Park an attractive destination for Olympic athletes and fans worldwide.

Are we the ones who should be making this NIMBY argument, selfishly refusing to share a small fraction of our pristine parks, and shoving the burdens of the Olympics on other neighborhoods that don't have any of our resources or our level of access to the political process? Should the Olympics instead be be held in post-industrial corridors of the city, which are surrounded by impoverished residents and lack any parkland or essential services? Look at United Stadium--that certainly is not improving the surrounding neighborhoods of the West Side.

Most of us find it repulsive to complain that our affluence forces us to pay a greater share of taxes to help the poor, the sick and he homeless. It is not the spirit of our neighborhood. for us to cry NIMBY is no different.

We in Hyde Park-Kenwood should gladly give up some of our over-abundance of green grass for venues that would attract the world to visit Chicago in 2016, and to spend money here that can help build the much-needed parks, hospitals and community centers--not a stadium--in the communities that need them.

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Joseph Samuelson in the August 1 Herald in similar

And finally, Hyde Parkers tend to forget that we border very poor neighborhoods, and of course we needed the Olympics in Washington Park as a chance to revitalize the South Side. It is about time we got on board and thought about ways to assist and benefit from these developments instead of kicking and screaming. They will happen anyway, and it is up to us to be proud of our assistance and input or be humiliated by their success.

But Natalie Puryear fears Olympics will drive away natural peace and beauty

Magical images that I fear will become mere memories if the Olympics come to the Chicago area:

Every day at dusk, the geese that flock to Davis Park at Cottage Grove and the Midway, waddle west across the inner (Rainey Drive) street, past the monument of time, the sidewalk and grass to take a swim in the Washington Park lagoon. They walk in a straight line, and the adults pause as would human crossing guards as the goslings scoot toward the water. Once in the water, as the setting sun glistens on the gentle waves, they all frolic in their respite from the summer heat.

Sometimes, there is a family of humans strolling through the park and the children playfully hurry the birds along, but it's not necessary because we, in our big cars, have stopped to soak in the tranquility of it all. I always take the scenic route through the park instead of the main streets and there is very little traffic at that time of evening.

I don't know how they get to Davis Park and I don't know where they go after dark, but I shudder to think of the traffic that will surely intrude on this daily ritual as soon as the jackhammers hit the ground, preparing for the games.

I only hope that a project like the "Journey: The Next Hundred Years," a year 2000 collaborative of 60 photojournalists from the Chicago Alliance of African American Photographers (CAAAP), capture this peace for future generations. Top